Guest Post: Johnny Feeney’s Albums of 2019

Aside from compiling my own lists, I really enjoy looking over other people’s albums of the year rundowns and none more so than Mr. Johnny Feeney.

An insightful musical sage, Johnny’s guest appearances are always interesting and bring added flavour to the blog and I look forward to reading his contributions – of which, surely I’m not alone?

Yes, we’re a bit late with this one but sure better late than never, right?

A huge thanks to Johnny for taking time out to compile this list, and on that note, I’ll leave you with his favourite records of 2019.

10: DIIV – ‘Deceiver’

Following up 2016’s supreme Is the Is Are, Brooklyn shoegaze quartet DIIV’s third album Deceiver draws obvious comparisons to My Bloody Valentine with its multiple layers of shimmering, squalling guitars and lead singer Zachary Cole Smith’s dreamy vocals. Expect plenty of loud / quiet / loud moments on this dazzling return.

Listen in full here.

09: Hot Chip – ‘A Bath Full of Ecstasy’

Although their newer material has perhaps lost some of the menace of their early output, ultra-consistent Hot Chip prove they are still adept at releasing dance-pop of the highest calibre. A perfect antidote to the grim global political and environmental situation we find ourselves in today, I challenge anyone to listen to the likes of ‘Positive’ or ‘Melody of Love’ and not feel a wave of joy wash over you.

Listen in full here.

08: Black Midi – ‘Schlagenheim’

The Mercury-nominated debut album from this four-piece experimental-rock band hailing from London is definitely not going to be to everyone’s taste. From the brutal opening salvo of ‘953’ to the wonderful closer ‘Ducter’, this relentless record is one that never lets go. A highly ambitious record, understandably it doesn’t always quite come together. But when it does hit the mark it’s absolutely thrilling. Improvised mayhem never sounded so good.

Listen in full here.

07: Marika Hackman – ‘Any Human Friend’

The latest LP from Marika Hackman certainly has a much more pop-leaning sound than her early fans would expect from the English singer-songwriter. Hackman’s usual vocals and guitar lines are regularly joined by jaunty synths to create upbeat tunes merged with deeply personal lyrics exploring themes such as same-sex relationships (‘All Night’) and masturbation (‘Hand Solo’). The jaw-dropping title track that closes the album is beyond staggering.

Listen in full here.

06: Drahla – ‘Useless Coordinates’

This bludgeoning debut record from Leeds post-punk outfit Drahla comes with driving guitars, a pummelling rhythm section, and Luciel Brown’s breathy vocals. Viciously, skewed saxophones add to the overall sombre atmosphere. Clocking in at a breathless half an hour, Useless Coordinates starts off dark and doesn’t veer off course once.

Listen in full here.


05: Mattiel – ‘Satis Factory’

The highly accomplished second album from the Atlanta-based singer-songwriter prominently features Mattiel Brown’s distinctive, booming vocals and some delightful, grooving and soulful blues-rock. Brown has an uncanny ability to create expertly crafted sub three-minute rock songs with an infectious hook. A very impressive piece of work.

Listen in full here.

04: The Murder Capital – ‘When I Have Fears’

The superb debut album from the Dublin post-punk five-piece is a moody, atmospheric affair. Brooding, menacing guitars and percussion are paired to pulsating effect with the haunting, angst-ridden vocals of lead singer James McGovern. A formidable live act, the group’s sound has been captured masterfully on record by UK producer Flood. Along with Fontaines DC and Girl Band, the Murder Capital are at the forefront of an exciting wave of great new Irish rock bands.

Listen in full here.

03: Aldous Harding – ‘Designer’

New Zealand folk artist Aldous Harding’s third studio album is the epitome of easy listening – nine tracks of blissful, exquisitely arranged songs. Harding’s tender vocals are accompanied by multiple layers of instrumentation and backing vocals to devastating effect throughout. A gorgeous album that gets better with every listen.

Listen in full here.

02: Vampire Weekend – ‘Father of the Bride’

After a six year hiatus and losing a key member in multi-instrumentalist Rostam Batmanglij back in 2016, Vampire Weekend fans could be forgiven for worrying if maybe this was the beginning of the end for the New York indie-poppers. Instead Ezra Koenig re-emerged with an exceptionally strong set of tracks, enlisting the help of the likes of Danielle Haim on vocals and guitarist Steve Lacy. The result is an immensely enjoyable, if overlong, album.

Listen in full here.

01: Fontaines DC – ‘Dogrel’

The eagerly awaited debut of Dublin punk rock quintet Fontaines DC delivers emphatically on every level. An extremely diverse and lyrical record, lead singer Grian Chatten’s miniature vignettes of Dublin City are accompanied by an ever-changing soundtrack from the rest of the group. From the piledriving punk of ‘Chequeless Reckless’ and ‘Hurricane Laughter’ to the jangling stomp of ‘Sha Sha Sha’ and ‘Boys in the Better Land’ via the tender ‘Roy’s Song’ and ‘Dublin City Sky’, not a single foot has been put in the wrong place. In a new Golden Age of Irish guitar music, it’s the Fontaines DC’s star who’s shining brightest at the moment.

Listen in full here.

The JUNGLES!!! – ‘Roller Coaster’

The JUNGLES!!! are Japanese noisemaking outfit comprised from members of Red Bacteria Vacuum.

Together this trio make one hell of a noise as evidenced by furious new single ‘Roller Coaster’. Released as part of a new Japanese compilation called Tokyo Chikatetsu Vol 2, ‘Roller Coaster’ is wild! It is just under four minutes of furious, unrelenting energy and thunderous noise as pounding drums fearlessly keep a frantic tempo as scintillating riffs, meaty guitars and screeching vocals wield a furious and powerful spell. The potency and pace never lets up, it is an absolute riot, and all cloaked in layers of fuzz and distortion. 

Listen to ‘Roller Coaster’ below – and turn it up loud!

ALFFA – ‘PLA’

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Alffa are Dion Wyn Jones & Sion Eifion Land, a two-man riff machine from Llanrug, Wales.

Performing in their native Welsh, this pair have a massive sound and craft explosive tunes echoing the likes of The White Stripes, The Black Keys & Royal Blood et al. The self-dubbed “punk-blues” two piece introduced themselves with powerhouse singles ‘Creadur’ and ‘Tomos Rhys’ late last year, and Alffa are back with new single ‘PLA’ – provoing once again they are a force to be reckoned with. ‘PLA’ is every bit as muscular as it predecessors announcing it’s presence with a deafening combination of ferocious, serrated guitar riff, thunderous and propulsive drums and searing, biting vocals. It is a thundering three-minutes of gritty rock ‘n roll abandon as mammoth riffs crash into pulverising percussion for a dazzling and mighty whirl of noise.

You can listen to ‘PLA’ below – and if that is to your liking, there is plenty more where that came from here too.

 

The Red Leslies – ‘Intercourse Weapon’

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The Red Leslies are a garage-punk band from Southern California revolving around core members Luis Sanchez and Adrian Martinez whose sound is derived from influences like The Ramones, T. Rex, The Strokes, Buddy Holly and Lou Reed.

Having formed in 2015 The Red Leslies have spent the intervening years playing gigs at rowdy house parties, empty swimming pools, along with more traditional venues, and now have their debut record In White primed for release in March. And with that news comes lead single ‘Intercourse Weapon’; a fast, furious and fuzzed-up burst of guitar driven energy. It is riff driven garage rock at its triumphant best, fuelled by a fizzing vitality it races forward, pumped with adrenaline that is tempered by a melodic sensibility and hooks you could hang your hat on – and topped off by some simply scintillating vocals. This is a full-blood garage-rock explosion with raucous and riotous energy dripping out of every pour.

Tune into ‘Intercourse Weapon’ below and keep those eyes peeled for their debut record In White come March.

Phantom Phunk – ‘Cheap Thrills’

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Phantom Phunk are Tampa, Florida based trio of Alexa Toro (vocals), Nick Emiliozzi (drums) and Hector Fontanet (guitar), and also joined by local hip-hop artist Cloud Master Price.

Given the composition of the group, it will hardly be a surprise to find that together they make punk-tinged alt-rock, with a hint of hip-hop running through its veins. Phantom Phunk’s latest single ‘Cheap Thrills’ is both bizarre and exhilarating. Buzzsaw, bending riffs rev through the gears as synth, bumping bass and quickstep beats oscillate to the vocals of some psychedelic siren beckoning us listeners to simply “shake it!”. Then comes the drop and a momentary parting of the psychedelic clouds so to speak which provides just enough space for Cloud Master Price delivery his wares, as a flurry of energetic and focused barbed rhymes match the ferocity of the music step for step. A phenomenal tune, such energy and velocity, it packs a hell of a punch!

Listen to ‘Cheap Thrills’ below and if that is to your liking, their Struggle With Me EP is available for your ears here.

no reception. – ‘Door Mat’

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No reception is a one woman pop punk machine, the brainchild of Claire Julian who takes charge of roles as songwriter, vocalist, guitarist, bassist, and drummer.

Julian’s brilliant brand of angsty, lo-fi indie with a pop-punk streak is clear for all to see on new single ‘Door Mat’. Taken from the recently released EP, See Through, ‘Door Mat’ is a super buoyant affair that unleashes a three-minute, power-pop blitz of catchy riffs, crunchy guitars, infectious pop melodies and fast paced drum grooves that are all coated in a light fuzz and imbued with youthful energy and punky aggression. An irresistible power-pop punk nugget!

Listen to ‘Door Mat’ below now – and the entire EP is available here.

BILK – ‘Slob’

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BILK are young Essex trio of Sol Abrahams (vocals/guitar), Luke Hare (bass), and James Holland (drums) who’s preference is an angsty blend of indie, rap and punk; and a fondness for Fred Perry and Adidas.

Their latest single ‘Slob’ is an absolute riot; it is frenetic, feisty, energetic, raw and anthemic. Crunching, raw guitars and buzz-saw riffs meet furious fast-paced drums to drive the energy forward, providing fuel for the volatile, semi-rapped streetwise lyrics that are brash, mouthy and tongue-in-cheek.Talking themes of youth, unemployment and drugs the trio present a firm middle finger to the people who looked down on them as dosers for choosing music. This is an apologetically raw and lippy indie-punk sound.

Tune into the sound from the suburbs, ‘Slob’ below:

False Heads – ‘Yellow’

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Over the course of the past two years, London trio False Heads – singer and guitarist Luke Griffiths, bassist Jake Elliott and drummer Barney Nash – have marked themselves as noisemakers supreme.

In that time the trio have been unleashing their blistering grunge/punk hybrid with a slew of ferocious singles, the latest of which – and second of 2018 – is ‘Yellow’. The new one is as fierce a proposition as anything they’ve done before. Fueled by an abrasive attitude, a pent up anger is unleashed with a furious intent as searing riffs, meaty buzzsaw guitars and pounding drums unite to form a torrent of devastating noise – a perfect storm for Griffiths’ snarly and venomous vocals. Amid the squall of noise and punchy energy though, there are hooks and there is melody which catch you and don’t let go. A glorious blast of rock ‘n roll.

Listen to ‘Yellow’ below – word of warning, do it loud.

Drens – ‘No’

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Drens are a fuzz loving garage rock / surf punk foursome from Dortmund/Cologne, Germany.

Their debut ‘Wilhelm Be Gone’ was released in January of this year and has been quickly followed by the brand new single, ‘No’. A freewheeling frenzy of energetic surfy punk-tinged indie, ‘No’ packs a hell of punch. Unleashing itself with all the energy of a coiled-up spring, wave after wave of hi-octane racy riffs, spiky guitars, snappy drums and rumbling basslines coalesce with equally springy (Zebedee-esque) vocals for a whirlwind salvo of raucous vitality. A lively, infectious and fun tune, it is a bona fide two-and-a-half minutes of punky indie gold (and the video is pretty nifty too).

Listen to ‘No’ and its predecessor ‘Wilhelm Be Gone’ below:

Eva et Ménades – ‘Le brouillard de l’alcool’

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Parisian duo Eva et Ménades do a fine line is creating great, compelling pop-rock – it is pop-rock with plenty of catchy hooks but with a raw menace to it.

The pair’s latest single ‘Le brouillard de l’alcool’ is a case in point, sounding both dangerous and irresistible catchy. The punky-rock-pop is a doozy with the primal assault led by a menacing buzzsaw riff, meaty bass, shuddering synths, screeching, glass shattering vocals – by the time the latter kicks in, resistance is futile. The formula of quiet building to epic proportions is eked out to the max and passing by at a whirlwind pace, leaving the listener struggling to catch a breathe. A compelling, full-blooded no nonsense sub three minutes of primal energy.

Watch the video for ‘Le brouillard de l’alcool’ below – and hopefully there’s more similarly brilliant belters to come in the near future.